Creating a better world through words and images

Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

My friends, this is a blog that’s been a long time coming and a blog I never hoped to write. This is the one where I deal with the fact that the left has failed to stand on principle (as I see it) and mount a primary challenge against the President… and the right, after some kerfuffle and griping from the base, is similarly preparing to abandon its principles and coalesce around Mitt Romney, the most transparently self-serving, reversible man in politics today.

This is the blog where I try to make peace with my enormous disappointment that there are fewer Americans who cherish habeas corpus and due process than I ever would’ve imagined — and reconcile myself to the fact that the oligarchs, elite criminals, and neoconservatives have, against the odds, turned their 2006-08 Waterloo moment into a stunning victory (thanks to corporatist “Democrats” who, boiler-plate rhetoric aside, refused in 2009 to mount even a timid defense of liberalism — despite the fact that 30 years of trickle-down economics and eight years of appalling GOP leadership had discredited modern conservatism entirely).

After months of Obama-bashing and Ron Paul-boosting, this is also the blog where I try to clarify myself on matters concerning the intersection of RACE and POLITICS:

1) Despite my support for Ron Paul’s candidacy, I believe he still has much to answer for with regard to his past courting of racist “paleo-conservatives.” (That said, I maintain that Rep. Paul has gotten a bum rap in the media, whose disproportionate attention to this matter would seem to suggest that Paul’s controversial 1980s-90s newsletter was some kind of outlier — and that the Southern Strategy wasn’t enjoying its heyday at the time, with Republicans from Buchanan to Reagan pandering outright to racists.); and

2) While many who criticize the President are apparently motivated by prejudice, I do not believe that racial animus has anything to do with my critique of his policies (I didn’t like them when they were Bush’s policies; I don’t like them any better now).

I hope the preceding statement will not come off as the classic white-male-American denial: “I’m not a racist!” (For one thing, I couldn’t make such a sweeping declaration without adding a caveat or two… like admitting that there are racist stereotypes — and other useless and offensive junk — in my head; stuff I picked up when I was very young, for the most part, and have been working to eradicate ever since). If anything, I’m more inclined to support President Obama on account of his race (just as I would be more apt to back the first woman president or the first openly gay president; as a liberal, I celebrate the rare moments when the marginalized and downtrodden overcome the odds and prevail).

If you want the whole truth, I count myself among the millions (billions?) of human beings who found Obama’s election genuinely inspiring, and I will always remember where I was on the day he was inaugurated.

I was awfully happy on that day.

NEXT: Part 2 — Some Kind Words for the President!

February is nearly over and I have yet to post a new blog… and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. Invitation2Artivism.com recently celebrated its ONE YEAR anniversary, and I’ve marked the occasion with a lot of questioning and reassessing my commitment to this site, its value, and my priorities.

I LIKE that Invitation2Artivism has enabled me to reach out to others, including fellow activists (from CODE PINK to the Occupy movement and beyond), with information and a perspective about current events that is somewhere between uncommon and eccentric, I suppose. I’ve tried — not always successfully — to be factual, clear, reasonable, and honest in this blog, without making a fool of myself (despite the fact that my honest feelings about the state of the world are mostly angry and despairing ones).

I QUESTION whether this site hasn’t been too much about blogging (and creating ridiculously elaborate political cartoons — some of which require a legend to decipher) and not enough about furthering my creative projects… which I hope will soon become OUR creative projects. (In short, I remain interested in collaborators, and I feel I have not done enough to communicate that interest — I badly need to update my “Projects” page, for one thing). I also wonder, after the past few months of participating in various OWS gatherings, how to strike the perfect balance between educating myself (and trying to share the benefits of that education) from my home, versus marching, rallying, and speaking out in person, with those in my community. Both, I feel, have value.

Whatever the future of this site, I should be clear that I have no intention of abandoning it… and I will continue to evaluate how it needs to grow (original video clips ARE in the works). I’ll also take advantage of this opportunity to THANK YOU, reader, for visiting Invitation2Artivism and helping me grow as a writer, artist, and activist. Some truly wonderful people have contacted me through this site, including some impressive artists, activists, and a marvelous poet (hi, Gianna!). I regret that I have often been slow to respond (I’m probably “too busy,” as I imagine myself to be, writing a vitally edifying and urgently needed play about “Zombie Nixon” or somesuch nonsense — forgive me, the self-amused nerd in me will never die, and these ditties keep me going).

Finally, since I’m already sharing a bit more on the personal side than I normally do here, let me encapsulate my February for you… I started the month working unhurriedly on a couple of ambitious blog entries (as yet unfinished, as I’ve been devoting more time to creative writing, placating my nagging muse… and feeding Zombie Nixon). Come mid-month, I found myself in Sacramento, sharing Valentine’s Day with my wife and visiting Occupy Sacramento. On the holiday, OS conducted an afternoon of teach-ins, culminating in discussions and presentations prescribed by Eve Ensler’s “V-Day,” to raise awareness of, and help reduce, sexual violence. The day was meaningful for me and the event powerful (kudos to the organizers, especially Kim). The trip was, overall, fantastic, especially the wonderful hours I spent with my wife. After leaving Sacramento, I came home to learn of personal troubles in my family, including serious concerns about some young people I love very much (“normal” life stuff, I suppose, however disruptive).

I’m just recently coming back down to Earth from all of the unusual rigmarole, reverting to my routines: newsing, reading WAR And PEACE with a group of friends, doodling, trying to be a decent husband/son/brother/uncle/friend, and endeavoring to contribute something meaningful to my community, local and global.

I look forward to continuing our conversation and CREATING SOME ART!!!

James

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I’ll close with a bit of free verse (that’s right, no charge) concocted from a comment I penned a week or two ago somewhere on the World Wide Web:

On a more personal note...

Okay, I just discovered “Garfunkel and Oates,” so here’s my new favorite song, “Save the Rich” (warning: some profanity… though not nearly as much as the subject warrants).

****** The PROFANITY-FREE version with Wierd Al is also tres bueno… ******

(Did you follow the link?  It’s funny and true.  Excellent job, G & O! — musical, comedic satirists, Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome)

Okay, so we’re not New York City or San Francisco.  We’re not Oakland or London or Washington, D.C.  Nonetheless, our sprawling, politically and culturally diverse, not-so-little patch of Silicon Valley-feeding suburbia is participating in the OWS movement that made 2011 a year to remember… and we’re only getting started.

Thanks to the initiative of inspired local youth and civic-minded houses of worship, Fremont Occupiers have been gathering for over two months now, in numbers that have ranged from a dozen or so to more than a hundred… and now we’ve established a core group of concerned — and positively energized — citizens, meeting weekly to share our ideas about how we can contribute to our society.

So far, we’ve been having our weekly GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT NOON at Veteran’s Park on the southwest corner of Walnut Avenue and Paseo Padre (if you’re in the neighborhood, why don’t you JOIN US on SATURDAYS — sometimes people bring FOOD!).  We’ve been sharing our facts, concerns, and ideas regarding local, state, national, and even global issues — in the understanding that, as (relatively) economically privileged individuals residing in the remains of a free and open society, we bear a special responsibility to exercise our voices and at least try to benefit our community.

We’ve begun to shape a process for introducing weekly “action items” for those who are motivated to act on any given issue.  Thus far, we’ve discussed disappearing civil liberties, food safety (and availability), poverty, universal healthcare, police brutality (particularly with regard to the federally-coordinated crackdown on OWS camps), the co-option of justice by powerful elites, and national politics in a presidential election year, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s outrageous decision in Citizens United (determining, once and for all, that corporations are indeed PEOPLE — plantation owners and pirates, mostly).

Much interest has been expressed in contributing to local community gardens — and possibly establishing one of our own.  Much angst has been shared about the transformation of America, in the post-9/11 era, into a nation whose laws are virtually indistinguishable from regimes traditionally considered AUTHORITARIAN.  There have also been discussions about the classic dilemma for American liberals: How can I not vote for Bill Clinton/Barack Obama/the Far-Right Democrat, when the Republican alternative seems to be an irrational, barely disguised KKK-throwback and champion of Gilt Age inequality?

(This is the part where I offer “good advice for 2012.”  Please understand that I am NOT speaking as a representative of Occupy Fremont or OWS, but simply as an INDIVIDUAL.)

GOOD ADVICE for 2012: ABANDON THE THOROUGHLY CORRUPT ESTABLISHMENT that has sold you out 100% and views you the way a great white shark views a lone, badly hemorrhaging baby porpoise… asleep, with a broken tail.  This year the rotten-to-the-core establishment has two champions: Barack Obama (Wall Street savior) and Mitt Romney (Wall Street avatar).  All branding and empty, dissembling rhetoric aside, there has never been smaller divide between “Good Cop” and “Bad.”

Neither man has any regard for the Constitution or rule of law.  Neither believes in due process, habeas corpus, Posse Comitatus, privacy rights, or Amendments I, IV, V, VI, or VIII (all of which are largely defunct, thanks to George W. Bush and, more surprisingly, Barack Obama).  Neither man has proposed any serious remedy for keeping Americans in their homes, despite the fact that many of the foreclosed (and those facing foreclosure) were lied to and defrauded by habitually criminal banks (even ALAN GREENSPAN has said as much).  Neither man has come close to offering a serious proposal for combating the looming threat of climate catastrophe (which they both ignore, almost as if it were the Constitution).  Neither man has advocated for the kind of infrastructure investment that America SORELY needs (which could modernize and GREEN our waterworks, transportation, and power plants, while putting millions of Americans to work, revitalizing our economy, and making us far less dependent on foreign oil — a commodity for which we have gone to war).

Both men believe in elite immunity for lawbreaking government officials and corporations, endless/boundless/illegal war, elections-as-opaque-auctions, and unfettered oligarchy (which is destroying both the middle class and free markets).  Both believe in trade pacts that efface national sovereignty and defile the environment while creating a global “race to the bottom” — oppressing workers, profiting our global rivals (India and China), and decimating the number of good jobs at home.  Both are vigorous champions of the unfathomably brutal, racist, and farcically-counterproductive Drug War that fills expensive, for-profit prisons (disproportionately) with African-Americans and Latinos, and puts them to work for big corporations — virtual slave laborers, subject to all manner of abuses.  Both have telegraphed an eagerness to restructure and slash Medicare and Social Security… while leaving corporations and plutocrats virtually untaxed.

WHAT CAN WE DO WHEN THE ESTABLISHMENT OFFERS US A CHOICE BETWEEN: A) DEATH BY ARSENIC and B) DEATH BY CYANIDE?

We can respond with a healthy, cleansing NONE OF THE ABOVE! (Stop falling for the “Good Cop/Bad Cop” farce and letting FEAR of “that other guy” determine your vote for the “lesser” evil — because both Good Cop and Bad Cop answer to the same ruthless mob!)

In this presidential election year, abandoning the establishment means throwing our support behind the most sensible and potentially electable anti-establishment figures running for office — and, for my money, that’s Ron Paul, on the right, who has been absolutely slandered by the media; and Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party, on the left.  Both men have spent the past several years vociferously rejecting the stupidest and most morally atrocious policies that leading Democrats and Republicans have embraced.

It also might be time for the aroused rabble in our country (whether we’re calling ourselves Tea Partiers, Occupiers, Independents, or whatever) to UNITE BEHIND A SINGLE DEMAND (yes, it’s time) — and there’s no question in my mind about what that demand should be: DEMOCRATIZE OUR ELECTIONS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE SYSTEM! It is absolutely imperative that we counter and neutralize the insanely outsized influence of private interests (and their lobbies) over our politicians and elections. This is the ONE priority that, if achieved, could pave the way for all kinds of beneficial policies, freeing our politicians to act on their better instincts instead of their campaign donors’ orders.

As unattainable as this goal may sound, OUR DISSENT IS POWERFUL and the oligarchs know this.  Right now, they’re afraid of OWS and the intelligently obstinate conservative base that has, thus far, denied the establishment its easy coronation of Mitt Romney.  IF ENOUGH OF US MAKE THIS DEMAND — and if we resist the establishment’s Divide & Conquer tactics — WE WILL SUCCEED (however, we also have to assure the powers-that-be that we don’t want their heads on pikes or their fortunes confiscated — for if we fail to do so, they will surely annihilate us and eat our children.)

*** THE BEST PART IS, IT’S NOT AS HARD AS IT SOUNDS *** Cleaning up our elections does NOT necessarily require that we first overturn Citizens United — that we somehow get our co-opted (bought and owned) politicians to pass an amendment to the Constitution which would put the kibosh on decades of legal precedents equating money with speech (a tall order of Olympian proportions — but not one we need to fill, at least not as the first order of business).

PASS ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO AS MANY FRIENDS AS YOU CAN (for this way, I believe, THE ANSWER doth lie): Lawrence Lessig’s strategy for democratizing our campaign finance system and ending the shadow auctions that pass for American elections today, in which the side that spends the most money wins roughly 90% of the time: www­.thedailys­how.com/wa­tch/tue-de­cember-13-­2011/exclu­sive—law­rence-less­ig-extende­d-intervie­w-pt–2 Mr. Lessig has also written a book on this subject which I highly recommend: “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It”